We gave Jane a tour of the house.
She asked good questions and took lots of notes. All seemed well.
But the dismal condition of the middle floor stopped her dead in her tracks.
“How much did those guys tell you it would cost to knock this place into shape?”
She burst out laughing. “Seriously?”
“That’s what they said.”
She took more notes, lapsing into a diplomatic silence. “Let’s see the bottom level.”
Down we went. She made gagging sounds when we showed her the recently gutted bathroom, but praised the workmanship of the projects Daniel had overseen so far.
Then we strolled into the side yard where she eyed the raw, cinderblock façade of the house’s west side.
“Does this come under the heading of ‘no unfinished business’?” she asked, cocking an eyebrow.
“That’s what we were told.”
Back upstairs twenty minutes later we sipped iced tea and hammered out an informal agreement.
“We’re going to have to take this step by step,” Michael said. “We don’t have a bottomless bank account like some of the folks buying houses down here”
She made a sympathetic face. “I hear you.”
“Our goal is to get the upstairs ready for the coming season,” I commented.
“Okay…” she said, glancing around the room dubiously. “For starters, you’re going to need to rip out that kitchen.”
“That’s our first priority.”
“And the bathroom needs lots of work.”
“And this place is begging for some curb appeal. Let’s tart it up a bit.”
“Bring it on!” I said, ready for anything now.
She sat back in her chair. “Great,” she said. “But you’re going to need a first-rate handyman to get all that stuff done.”
Michael spoke up again. “Makes sense. Do you have anyone in mind?”
She all but glowed. “As a matter of fact, I do.”
‘Fabulous. When can he start?”
She cocked her head. “Hey wait a minute, what about me?”
I was puzzled. “What about you?”
“Am I hired?”
I glanced at Michael, who nodded almost imperceptibly. It was my turn to smile for the first time that day.
“You are so hired.”